[EDITORIALS]Innocents in the Sports World

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[EDITORIALS]Innocents in the Sports World

The Board of Audit and Inspection said that the 14th Pusan Asian Games Organizing Committee made a secret pact with the Olympic Council of Asia in order to escape disqualification as host of the 2002 games. The agreement was utterly disadvantageous to Pusan. We worry that the games will lose money; the organizing committee is already in financial difficulties.

According to the inspection agency, the committee signed the pact in Sydney, Australia, last September. The organizing committee agreed that the Olympic Council of Asia has all business rights connected with the games. The committee also agreed to make a deposit of $20 million as security for execution of the contract, in addition to an original deposit of $1 million. The committee was to get back $10 million of that deposit in October and the remaining $10 million in December 2002, according to the agreement. The pact is one-sided; it includes a provision that the Olympic Council of Asia has the right to seize the deposit if the agreement is disclosed in the media. The audit board, in announcing the results of the inspection early this month, also failed to disclose the agreement quickly.

This is a sign of frantic attempts to attract international athletic games and inexperience in sports negotiations. When the Pusan city government won the 2002 Asian Games in 1995, it signed a contract under which the city would not independently set up profit-making businesses related to the games. The city also agreed that up to 30 players or staff could fly to and stay in Pusan at the city's expense. Pusan evidently just begged to be named host of the games.

The Pusan Asian Games Organizing Committee has been in the emblem business since 1996, in disregard of the contract stipulation. The organizing committee brought its misfortune on itself, as it took no notice of the Olympic Council of Asia's protest at the violation of the contract and a proposal by the council that it should share the marketing business. The organizing committee took no steps until the council notified it last August that it would find a new site for the games and confiscate the original security deposit.

According to the Board of Audit and Inspection's analysis, about 44 percent of revenues from the Pusan games will be allocated to the Olympic Council of Asia. The proportion is twice Thailand's payment to the council at the last Asian games, held in Bangkok. The council's charter says that in principle, the council should receive only a third of the revenue. Prospects for Pusan to break even look bleak.

There have been several cases when the Korean government, local governments and athletic groups promoted sports events just for the honor of staging them. Now they have to decide whether honor is better than profit. The central and Pusan governments should also nurture a work force that can handle sports negotiations more competently.
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